Lyon, France - Consumer electronics, healthcare, and industrial markets are the three biggest demand drivers for wearable electronics, according to a new report from Yole Développement (Yole). The market research firm forecasts the wearable industry to reach 295 million units by 2020 at a market value of $90 billion.
The report, Sensors for Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare, forecasts the consumer market, comprised of fitness bands and smart watches, to be the fastest growing segment. Analysts expect the healthcare market, including hearing aids, blood pressure monitors, and back monitor sensors, to grow at a slower rate, primarily because the market is well established and has seen growth for several years. However, the industrial market won’t see a significant uptick until 2020, although slow and steady growth is expected through 2019.
Yole expects there will an overlap between healthcare and consumer wearable products. Analysts predict that the healthcare market will merge with consumer products, “resulting in personalized medicine that involves self-monitoring of one’s health with smart and reliable devices.” But these devices with non-invasive, highly accurate and reliable tracking of biological signs are not expected for another few years, said Yole.
“The integration of biosensors - HRM, sweat sensor, skin temperature - is more difficult due to lack of experience, and technical challenges,” said Yole. “Moreover, battery limitation is pushing the industry towards more optimization, even on the hardware side, through either packaging innovation or new designs with lower power consumption.”
“They are not smart devices. Indeed their only mission is to accurately complete a single task. At Yole, we believe that a large part of the healthcare market will evolve in association with the consumer market, eventually blurring the lines between healthcare and consumer devices”, said Dr. Benjamin Roussel, activity leader, Medical Technology at Yole, in a statement.
Sensors used in wearable electronics include MEMS, inertial, pressure, biosensor, and environmental. A value add comes in the form of sensor fusion, which is creating smart sensors, leading to new features such as context awareness or “always-on” sensors.
Combined sensor advances will drive the global sensors market for wearables from 112 million units in 2014 to 835 million units by 2020, indicating the market is still in its infancy, said Guillaume Girardin, technology & market analyst, MEMS & sensors at Yole, in a statement.
Another demand driver is the Internet of Things. “Wearable technology is expected to be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, bringing useful information directly to the user in a more natural and friendly way than with traditional electronic devices,” stated Girardin.